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Conference on Climate Change, Migration and Resilience from 5th – 9th September 2018 in Bonn

Climate change is already influencing migration and population movements – and will do so in future. Two perspectives on the nexus of migration and climate change have emerged: On the one hand, much policy and research attention is directed to climate change as a cause for migration, and for potential conflicts and humanitarian crises that may result. On the other hand, the notion of “migration as adaptation” has opened up a more positive view, recognizing migrants’ agency and potential contribution to adaptation to environmental risks.

Migration, climate change, vulnerability, and resilience are linked in multi-causal and multi-directional ways. Acknowledging this complexity and the diversity of perspectives allows us to address important questions, for example how migration can contribute to the reduction of vulnerability in general, and to climate change adaptation in particular; or to the conditions and reasons why migration has adverse consequences, in social and ecological terms; or how climate change and development policy can possibly benefit from an integration of the topic of migration; or to broader issues of human rights, climate equity, and justice. Given the increasing uptake of such topics in science and policy discourses, it seems that the whole debate around “migration as adaptation” is in motion.

The conference “Adaptation in Motion - Climate Change, Migration and Resilience” aims at creating a forum for scientific exchange on the nexus of environment, migration, and resilience, bringing together scholars from different disciplines and fields of research (risk and vulnerability studies, migration studies, climate change adaptation, etc.). It will include discussing the findings of the TransRe project (www.transre.org) and putting them into the context of current discourses of climate, migration, and adaptation/resilience.

The conference will be comprised of papers selected through an open call. Attention will be given to interactive formats for critically evaluating and discussing the findings and presentations. This includes a forum for poster presentations and a policy panel. TransRE calls for the submission of contributions addressing one or several of the following topics and/or questions:

  • The relevance of migration (and translocality) for adaptation to climate change;
  • The linkages of climate and environmental change, vulnerability, and migration;
  • The role of translocal social practices for adaptation and social resilience;
  • Translocal social networks and their role for coping, adaptation, and transformation for rural areas;
  • Migration and adaptation in local, national, and international governance contexts;
  • Conceptualizing and empirically operationalizing the relationships of migration, social resilience, and climate change adaptation;
  • Empirical contributions on the relations between environmental change, migration, and transformation in rural areas.

Abstracts are welcome from both social and natural sciences and should be submitted latest by 15.05.2018.

Please send your abstract (for both poster and oral presentations - please state the format of your contribution) of no more than 300 words to Harald Sterly (sterly [at] giub.uni-bonn.de) and Svenja Enge (s6svenge [at] uni-bonn.de).

Further reading about migration :

Migration plays a significant role as a response strategy for coping with climatic and non-climatic drivers of change among vulnerable households in Ghana. At the same time, it exacerbates gendered vulnerabilities with consequences for community resilience and national economic planning. 

The Adaptation at Scale in Semi-Arid Regions (ASSAR); and Deltas, vulnerability and Climate Change: Migration and Adaptation (DECCMA) are two consortia contributing to migration research in semi-arid and deltaic hotspot regions, respectively. Both projects fall within the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA). The research in this brief draws on participatory interview processes and field work in the Upper West and household surveys on migrant households in the Volta Delta with the University of Ghana and partner institutions.

This study focuses on the links between the slow onset effects of climate change, human rights, and the cross-border movement of people. It explores the risks slow onset events pose to human rights, which can contribute to vulnerability that in turn acts as a driver of human mobility. Such vulnerability to harm will also continue to affect people as they move across borders. It considers the role human rights law can play in approaches to slow onset events and human mobility, including measures to mitigate, ensure the capacity and means to adapt, and provide access to effective remedies. The study also emphasises the preventive role of a human rights-based approach, which can shift the focus to the risks posed by slow onset events and action that can be taken before severe harm occurs.

This report, which focuses on three regions—Sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia, and Latin America that together represent 55 percent of the developing world’s population—finds that climate change will push tens of millions of people to migrate within their countries by 2050. It projects that without concrete climate and development action, just over 143 million people—or around 2.8 percent of the population of these three regions—could be forced to move within their own countries to escape the slow-onset impacts of climate change. They will migrate from less viable areas with lower water availability and crop productivity and from areas affected by rising sea level and storm surges. The poorest and most climate vulnerable areas will be hardest hit. These trends, alongside the emergence of “hotspots” of climate in- and out-migration, will have major implications for climate-sensitive sectors and for the adequacy of infrastructure and social support systems. The report finds that internal climate migration will likely rise through 2050 and then accelerate unless there are significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and robust development action.

This paper aims to brief policymakers on the nexus of migration, displacement, disasters and environmental change in Central and North America, as well as on normative and policy responses, specifically focusing on cross-border movements within the region.